Religious Education News: True Confessions

09 January 2018

Julie Miller, Director of Religious Education

I grew up Columbus, Ohio in an upper-crust neighborhood.

I had little exposure to what we now call “diversity”.

Activism was not a word I knew until college and adulthood.

So today, as we approach one of the most sober of American anniversaries—the life and death of Martin Luther King—I’m trying to come to terms with my reflections on MLK in relation to our everlasting Unitarian principles.

What we have here is an opportunity to embrace, and possibly even promote, the passion of one of the most provocative, impassioned and decent human beings ever to light up the land.

What we have here is a call, figuratively speaking, to stand up for racial justice in a time of backward sliding, a regrettable time, in fact, in which darker sentiments that prevailed fifty and a hundred years ago are percolating again into the highest levels of society.

You might think, oh no, it’s time to don your activist overcoat..get out there, gather forces, take a public stand. Some of us are cut out to do just that. Many are not. So…what to do after an inspiring sermon? What to do after your vote doesn’t seem to matter anymore?

Start slow and easy. Can you write a letter? Good. Can you chat up a friend and write two letters? Better. If you don’t have the words, it’s highly likely they’ve already been written and written well by folks online.

Take a couple of your like-minded friends or colleagues to a City Council meeting. Observe who’s on first, so to speak, with cogent comments—and who is not. There are new members on that Council who just might like to know what you’re thinking.

We’ve seen Council members and City government people respond positively to respectful citizen input. Ask if law enforcement training touches on racial sensitivities.

My earliest teaching job was in Pontiac, Michigan in a mostly-black school. What an eye-opener…the locals likened my upbringing to “marinating in an elitist environment.” Soak in that for a minute!

As I noted several years ago, it’s been proven that Catholic and Protestant kids in Northern Ireland could actually mingle peacefully if they were isolated from the maddening prejudices that disabled their parents.

So. In light of MLK’s incomparable efforts to overcome racial injustice, let us renew our commitment to compassionate Unitarian principles. Let us be just a bit more challenged, a bit more caring and a bit more engaged to make a difference.

Alabama voters did it. So can we.